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It’s important to keep in mind as a hiring manager that interviews are a two-way street. Potential employees will quickly form an impression of you, both as a representative of your company and as a potential supervisor. By taking the follow steps to structure your interviews, you can greatly improve their effectiveness:

Be prepared

Take time to familiarize yourself with the resume in advance so you don’t waste precious time reading from it during your meeting. Jot down several key questions to cover so you don’t miss important information. If there are several managers involved in the hiring process, then coordinate with each other to ensure you are sharing information and that time is not being wasted with overlapping questions.

Be courteous

Schedule the interview with enough time built in for you to extend if needed (suggested duration is 45 minutes.) Give the potential employee your undivided attention! Plan to have your incoming calls held and turn off your cell phone to avoid interruption. The person leading the interview should only do 25% of the talking, leaving the rest of the time for the candidate to explain their qualifications.

Set an agenda

Interviews can be stressful so let the candidate know up front what to expect during your time together. Areas to include are format and duration of the meeting, as well as a request to save questions until the end.

Develop rapport

Plan to spend the next few minutes breaking the ice by talking about personal interests like where they went to school, shared contacts, sports or interests they’ve listed on their resume and any other “safe” topics. Areas to avoid are race, religion, and other personal questions that should not influence a hiring decision.

Review technical background

This part of the interview should focus on evaluating whether the candidate has the necessary qualifications, including skills and experience. Try to ask open-ended questions instead of a yes/no format to gain better understanding of the candidate’s knowledge in each area.

Gauge personality/culture fit

This area is harder to uncover yet still a crucial part of your meeting. Asking about past behavior will help you predict how similar situations will be handled in the future.

Sell the Opportunity!

Share with the candidate the reasons why the company is successful and why the role would be a potential good move. Be passionate in explaining why you enjoy working there. Remember that candidates may be evaluating more than one opportunity and if you are interested in the employee, you need to show your enthusiasm.

Do not discuss compensation

The purpose of the initial meeting is to evaluate the basic skill and culture fit on both ends, not the time to discuss salary and benefits.

Allot 5 minutes for questions at the end – You can tell quite a bit about a candidate by the quality of their questions. This closing part of the interview should help you understand their interest in pursuing the role.

Be clear about the next step

Leave your business card with the candidate so they can follow up with a thank you note and any additional questions. Let them know where you are in the process and when you expect to make a decision, assuming they may be evaluating more than one opportunity.If you have an interest in the candidate from your initial meeting, it would be beneficial to let them know right away in case they are close to another offer.